Artefactual and Artisanship

James M. Buchanan and Vincent Ostrom at the Core and Beyond the Boundaries of Public Choice

Given the broader context of the Public Choice and Constitutional Political Economy scholarly community, James Buchanan and Vincent Ostrom assumed a rather distinctive shared position which has rarely, if ever, been explicitly and properly recognized as such in the literature. This chapter focuses on this problem arguing that the specific nature of the Buchanan-Ostrom perspective is fully revealed only if we focus on one key concept, which despite its lack of salience in the literature, captures best the gist of their position: The concept of “artefactual” and through it, an entire cluster of related notions such as “artefact”, “constructivism” and “artisanship”. The chapter uses the concept of the “artefactual” as the preeminent vehicle in developing a more nuanced understanding of the foundations of the Buchanan-Ostrom system of ideas, while trying to stay very close to the textual evidence which supports the thesis at the core of the chapter.

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